Naydeline Navarrete (SEBS’27) —a native New Yorker—chose John Bowne High School in the city because of her love of animals and Bowne’s agriscience institute. The lure of working with animals was strong and the agriscience program not only involved animals, but a 4-acre farm.
Naydeline found herself volunteering for everything from managing her own plot, giving farm tours and selling student-grown produce at their farm stand, to animal husbandry—working with peacocks, cows, mini donkeys and mini horses—to working in the greenhouse with their hydroponic system, managing the school’s exotic aviary and being the only student to be allowed to work with finches from fisheries and wildlife!
She began visiting SEBS two years ago during recruitment tours and comes to us with passion for agriculture education, intending to major in Agriculture and Food Systems. She would eventually like to return to Bowne to teach!
SEBS/NJAES Newsroom sat down with Naydeline just as she begins her undergraduate career at Rutgers.
How did you first learn about Rutgers?
I learned about Rutgers when my high school’s agricultural program (which I was a part of) went to go do a tour. This was during my junior year but I knew about Rutgers beforehand since they had animal science and agricultural education. Rutgers was the only school I applied to in New Jersey and SEBS was the only school/program I wanted to be a part of.
What led you to choose Rutgers and SEBS?
The amazing facilities they have and how exposed students are to the field they want to go into. For me personally I really fell in love with the campus the moment I got there. Something about Rutgers made me feel like I had a belonging. Compared to other schools I visited, none of them made me feel the way I felt when I was at Rutgers.
Do you have any prior connection to Rutgers – family or friends?
The only connection I have to Rutgers is my assistant principal, Patrycja Zbrzezny, who attended Rutgers. She was an animal science major and did the agricultural education track. Since I want to become an agriculture teacher, she told me about what Rutgers had to offer and the amazing program. This was truly one of the main reasons why I wanted to go to Rutgers.
What social issue do you want to solve using science and experiential learning?
I would like to solve the problem of the shortage of agricultural educators. I believe that being able to go through the animal science program at SEBS and then going through the agricultural education track will help me become a qualified agricultural teacher. We have a shortage of teachers and with the hands-on experiences I will gain, I will be able to inspire my future students or even those around me on how important agriculture is.
Describe some of your most important school activities. Were you involved in a leadership role?
The most important activity I participated in during high school—and honestly my favorite was—Future Farmers of America (FFA.) I spent the last four years dedicated to all things FFA and agriculture. I was involved in competitions at the district, substrate, state and national levels.
I won the Employment skills (Leadership development Event) at the state level. I competed in this competition all the way from the district level to the state level. And this upcoming fall in November I will be competing at the National Level.
I was the John Bowne FFA Chapter Treasurer from 2021 to 2022 and kept an accurate record of all reimbursements and any funding our chapter received.
This past year I was the 2022-2023 New York State FFA District 1 President. I represented chapters in NYC and Long Island at the state level when the need arose. I was able to meet members not only in my district but all over the state and was able to inspire them in any way possible.
What would you like us to know about your background/family story?
I am someone who is very outgoing and not afraid to put myself out there because at the end of the day if I don’t, I may never know what the outcome might be. I personally do not come from an agriculture background so I am not a part of the mindset that considers ag as “only farming.” That is a stigma I want to break because it’s not just “farming” and being born into it. Agriculture can be what you decide to make it be with the resources you have available. With my current generation there is a lot of change; we are the next generation of agriculturalists and that stigma will be broken since it is way more than just farming.
I am the youngest in my family. There are six of us: my parents (mom and dad), my two older brothers and my older sister. I also have three cats. Youngest – in family. Siblings sports and soccer. Always very supportive.
What are you passionate about?
I am really passionate about agriculture, animal science and, of course, FFA. I would not be the person I am today without all the different experiences I had in high school. I mean being able to attend a high school in New York city with a four-acre farm and get exposed to the industry is something I will forever be grateful for. I truly owe my passion for this industry to my high school agriculture teachers and FFA advisors. I fell in love with animal science because of them.